Monday, June 6, 2016

I Mined and Shared from Matchless Mines of Me: Two Sonnets of Job (Apology Box Additions)




In these days when some claim to follow so-called prosperity theology, it's of course good to remember the story of Job.  It is, in fact, impossible to claim that one follows the Bible literally and yet also claim that God will lavish health and material reward on those who follow him. Similarly, suffering does not in and of itself indicate malfeasance. Both experience and Job tell us just the opposite.  We see good people suffer, and we see people who do bad things prosper nonetheless.  Of course, this is not to say that we are not often rewarded for good and that we are not often punished for doing wrong.  Nor is this to say that at least some form of reputational "karma" does not exist.  We of course build and lose reputations based upon our voluntary choices and we reap and suffer consequences of those choices.  However, all this occurs in the context of a world coming at us in countless ways that are also beyond our control and that deliver both bounties and setbacks that we don't deserve.  The best of us can live in poverty and ill-health despite our best efforts and those of us doing the worst can live in great prosperity.  To claim otherwise (1) rejects both experience and the Book of Job, (2) rejects true humanity itself, (3) rejects the compassion and understanding true virtue requires, and (4) demeans grace which, frankly, we all need to appreciate and cultivate more.    

               Job’s Sonnets  

                       I.

I see we have due process after all-- 
We have it at the end though justice keeps 
Discretion and more distance during life
Allowing easy error judging men. 

Once haughty, I thought illness punished sin 
Before rank ulcers chewed across my skin,
Rewarding my own virtues with disease
While others sinned yet suffered no disease
And even prospered by their deeds.  I've learned
That earthly station often isn’t earned.

No earthly fortunes ever prove one's worth
Including, too, the final bounties God
Shared once the devil lost.  My merit's proof:
I mined and shared from matchless mines of me.

                         II.    

Despite false prophets of prosperity
That judge in terms of health and property,  
Fate traffics us in ways do not see.
Real profits can be false if given sense
To speak of character beyond mere cents
Where fortune was the active agent.  Hence:

When a serpent happens on a priceless bird
There is no merit in the profit past
The accident itself, no avian wrong
That justifies slow death within a gut
Corroding color and dissolving song.

Thus, too, the wealth that God returned to me
Proves nothing of that true prosperity
I mined and shared from matchless mines of me. 


These sonnets are continuing additions to The Apology Box found here.

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